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Issue 9, 2019
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Digestion-on-a-chip: a continuous-flow modular microsystem recreating enzymatic digestion in the gastrointestinal tract

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Abstract

In vitro digestions are essential for determining the bioavailability of compounds, such as nutrients. We have developed a cell-free, miniaturized enzymatic digestive system, employing three micromixers connected in series to mimic the digestive functions of the mouth, stomach and small intestine. This system continuously processes samples, e.g. containing nutrients, to provide a constant flow of digested materials which may be presented to a subsequent gut-on-a-chip absorption module, containing living human intestinal cells. Our system incorporates three-compartment enzymatic digestion, one of the key functions of the gastrointestinal tract. In each of these compartments, we modify the chemical environment, including pH, buffer, and mineral composition, to closely mimic the local physiological environment and create optimal conditions for digestive processes to take place. It will therefore provide an excellent addition to existing gut-on-a-chip systems, providing the next step in determining the bio-availability of orally administered compounds in a fast and continuous-flow ex vivo system. In this paper, we demonstrate enzymatic digestion in each separate compartment using compounds, starch and casein, as model nutrients. The use of transparent, microfluidic micromixers based on chaotic advection, which can be probed directly with a microscope, enabled enzyme kinetics to be monitored from the very start of a reaction. Furthermore, we have digested lactoferrin in our system, demonstrating complete digestion of this milk protein in much shorter times than achievable with standard in vitro digestions using batch reactors.

Graphical abstract: Digestion-on-a-chip: a continuous-flow modular microsystem recreating enzymatic digestion in the gastrointestinal tract

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
10 Oct 2018
Accepted
02 Mar 2019
First published
05 Apr 2019

This article is Open Access

Lab Chip, 2019,19, 1599-1609
Article type
Paper

Digestion-on-a-chip: a continuous-flow modular microsystem recreating enzymatic digestion in the gastrointestinal tract

P. de Haan, M. A. Ianovska, K. Mathwig, G. A. A. van Lieshout, V. Triantis, H. Bouwmeester and E. Verpoorte, Lab Chip, 2019, 19, 1599
DOI: 10.1039/C8LC01080C

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